Yesterday, I spent the day on the bus as part of a tour that included stops at tea houses in Altona, Winkler and Stonewall.
Tea, however, was not on my agenda. I had never been to either of Altona or Winkler and it had been decades since I had last set foot in Stonewall. When I saw this “Tea Tour” on the brochure, I instead saw it as an opportunity to explore all three communities. As I have long since learned, you are in charge of your own experience, not the tour company.
Bright and early, we headed south on PTH 75 before turning west at PTH 14.
I am old enough to remember when there used to be a truck stop at this junction.
Proceeding west on PTH 14, we passed by the nearby wind farm.
For those of you that may be unaware, PTH 75 used to be known as PTH 14 before it was renumbered in the 1950’s to match US 75 in Minnesota. Not only was it foolish to reuse the number for an adjacent highway, but it was doubly bad considering that PTH 14 actually follows Road 13N, one mile south of Road 14N. I have no doubt that PTH 14 and Road 14N are often confused with each other.
Moving on, we turned south towards Altona and the Jasmine Tea Room.
I used our half hour in Altona to explore the town.
The offices of the RM of Rhineland. Like many other municipalities in the province, their offices aren’t actually in the municipality that they serve. Details, details.
The Altona Mall. Yes, there is a mall in Altona.
Altona Civic Center.
The last three digits of this license plate were a welcome sight. Message sent. Message received. Those of you who know me may understand the significance.
As you would expect, highway signs were part of my agenda on this tour.
Some sort of sculpture in front of Friesens printers.
A fake German license plate on this Beemer.
Our next stop was North Wind Clayworks north of Altona, located on Road 5W south of Road 11N. Unfortunately, neither our tour guide nor our driver seemed sure of where the place was. Given that we were virtually in the middle of nowhere, however, one of the very few farm houses in the area was bound to be the right one. Luckily, they got it right on the first try.
First, I toured their well-manicured garden.
Their garden reminded very much of the Lily Nook in Neepawa.
I then toured inside the pottery barn.
With my well-used camera, I recorded the pottery demonstration.
After spending an hour there, we were back on the highway bound for Winkler.
Passing around Plum Coulee.
There is a bypass around Plum Coulee and Garson, yet drivers on PTH 75 are still forced to go through Morris. I know that it must sound like a broken record, but the logic behind the failure to address what is the Achilles heel of the Manitoba highway system continues to baffle me.
Once we had arrived, most of the passengers had lunch at Gingerwood Lane, conveniently located next to the Triple E factory and its sweet-smelling paint fumes. As you would expect, I had my own plan and got some shots before eating the lunch that I had brought with me at the nearby Southland Mall.
I didn’t take advantage of this “splcial”:
In Altona, all the bikes that I had seen outside were not locked up. In Winkler, however, two of the four on this rack were locked. It is perhaps a poignant symbol that Winkler has indeed arrived as a city and not one for the better.
After nearly an hour and a half in Winkler, we were back on the road, this time headed north towards Stonewall.
We passed through Carman. It is a town that I imagine will soon be feeling the pressure of political correctness to adopt a more inclusive moniker such as “Carperson.”
In Stonewall, our bus pulled up two spots behind a truck with a sticker from Gimli Ford.
Again, message sent. Message received. You may understand. You may not.
We went into to the McLeod House, where I joined the group and had some tea.
There was an odd musty smell in the air and for a specialty tea house, I was shocked to hear that they only serve Red Rose. I had instead expected to be offered any of a dozen or more varieties, not to have less choice than I would have had at McDonald’s.
Upstairs, they have a gift shop.
This is the genesis of your future garage sale.
With some extra time, I made a brief tour of the town.
Do you need a “reliner” sofa?
How about some “stationary”?
Every small town in Manitoba has a Chicken Delight, or at least they did.
This location has since been closed and the building is for sale. There had been a time that a Manitoba town would have seen the loss of their Chicken Delight as a mortal blow, but with other franchises rising to prominence, it probably doesn’t even register on the radar anymore. Today, the presence of a Tim Hortons franchise is a much bigger symbol that a town has arrived, so to speak.
Parking restrictions in Stonewall? Can the crew from A & E’s Parking Wars be far behind?
I went off the beaten path and toured some side streets.
Alas, it was time to get back on the bus and return after a long and exhausting day. I was glad that I went and it was an enjoyable experience, even it was very different from the tour’s official purpose.